My Views on Social Networking
(Note: this was originally posted on: (My) Dose of Lunacy blog):
I am completely enamored with the social networking phenomenon.
What is so appealing to me is that this revolution is the antithesis of the alienation that most feared the internet and computers would lead to. Here the focus is not to remove oneself from society but rather to become more a part of it. It also enables us to stay connected and have a better handle on our real-world relationships. I think that the whole progression away from dealing directly with people and their interests (by living in a corporate climate and/or in a virtual reality) has led us to the basic need of wanting to be close to others and yearning for real contact. We long for the “community” feeling, we want so desperately to connect more deeply and establish real relationships.
Moreover, on a large scale, social networking truly fulfils the role that our old (read: non-virtual) communities used to prove. This has sorely been lacking for most of us. Now we are only several connections away from others, only a few friends away from a new friend. Here we offer assistance to each other and ask for help. We are kept posted of occurrences within our social circle, to what are friends are doing or concerned about, today. Of what events they are attending. Here the town crier is Facebook, shouting out to us about the many parties we can attend, things we can do. As a “Wired” article summed-up the phenomenon that is Twitter: “That tactile sense of your community is simply too much fun, too useful” (Clive Thompson, “How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense”).
Further, we have entered into a new realm of radical transparency, where we are all (humans and businesses alike) taking steps to be more revelatory, open about ourselves flaws and all. Our insecurities and thoughts are assets, as opposed to hindrances, in terms of how we communicate in social networking spheres. Sure, this can be indulgent and narcissistic when taken to its most extreme level, but I am thrilled to see people being somewhat self-deprecating and more honest about themselves. Not shying away from admitting that they really like who they are, but in the same breath attesting to their imperfections and insecurities. This change can carry beyond the online world. “As people become more tolerant of online openness, we could see a shift in attitudes and a rethinking of what we consider private.” (Alison George for New Science Tech, “Living Online: Living online: The end of privacy?”).
It is more than a little refreshing to move away from the desperate focus of trying to be cool and appear impeccably together. One needs not be riddled with neurosis to, occasionally, say that he is, say, afraid of the dark or that she sometimes feels inferior around more educated co-workers. These flaws make us all the more human and allowing ourselves to be human connects us to others on a (yes, I’ll say it:) deeper level. Revealing the crack in the armour is not only liberating but it simultaneously allows others to relate to us and feel a connection.
I see this era of internet revelation (anything from to revealing deep-seated feelings/secrets, to blog posts to Facebook groups and postings) as proof of that greater connection. That we want to be together, that we prefer to connect with each other rather than shy away from contact. That we would rather be a part than apart.